Factors Affecting Brain Development
But what causes normal brain development to go awry? Some NIMH researchers are investigating genetic causes-the role that heredity and genes play in passing the disorder from one generation to the next. Others are looking at medical problems related to pregnancy and other factors.
Heredity: Several studies of twins suggest that autism- or at least a higher likelihood of some brain dysfunction-can be inherited. For example, identical twins are far more likely than fraternal twins to both have autism. Unlike fraternal twins, which develop from two separate eggs, identical twins develop from a single egg and have the same genetic makeup.
It appears that parents who have one child with autism are at slightly increased risk for having more than one child with autism. This also suggests a genetic link. However, autism does not appear to be due to one particular gene. If autism, like eye color, were passed along by a single gene, more family members would inherit the disorder. NIMH grantees, using state-of-the-art gene splicing techniques, are searching for irregular segments of genetic code that the autistic members of a family may have inherited.
Some scientists believe that what is inherited is an irregular segment of genetic code or a small cluster of three to six unstable genes. In most people, the faulty code may cause only minor problems. But under certain conditions, the unstable genes may interact and seriously interfere with the brain development of the unborn child.
Has An Unusual Intelligence Level
Being either far advanced or obviously delayed for their age could be a cause for concern. Some autistic children have an amazing mathematical or musical talent, known as a savant ability. Others are cognitively delayed. If you notice your child is on either end of the spectrum, and is clearly at a different intelligence level than the majority of their peers, its worth noting. That being said, some kids on the spectrum have a normal intelligence level, so the absence of unusual intelligence does not rule out autism.
What If Your Child Shows Some Early Signs Of Autism
Any one of these signs may not be a problem. But in combination, they may signal a need to conduct a screening or diagnostic evaluation.
As a general guide, if your child shows any 4 of these early signs, use our free online Social Communication CheckUp to screen your baby for autism.
If your child shows 8 or more of these early signs, ask for a referral for a diagnostic evaluation.
Talk to your childs doctor or teacher about any of these early signs or contact your local early intervention program. Share this article with them.
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When Children With Autism Bite Others
If your child is biting others, its likely for a reason other than stimming . Biting others is often referred to as a form of aggression. Aggression can sound like a scary word, but it doesnt have to be. Of course, aggressive behaviors are something that your child will need guidance with. They are not, however, a sign of who your child is.
Below are two reasons why your child may be exhibiting aggressive behavior:
Its long been known that Autism and sensory challenges go hand in hand. Children with Autism often have a difficult time meeting their sensory needs. If your child is having trouble meeting an oral sensory need, they may resort to biting. The frustration that comes from not being able to meet this need can lead to what looks like aggressive behavior from the outside.
Sometimes, biting can even be a child with Autisms way of telling you what they need. This can be the case whether they are verbal or nonverbal. The Autism Treatment Center explains that if your child can get what they need faster by biting you than they can by using their words, they may go for the bite more often than not. They may also bite because they are unable to communicate what they need, which leads to frustration.
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Early Signs Of Autism
Signs of autism in babies
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder, which means that signs become apparent as a child does not develop as expected, for example developing speech or learning to crawl later than expected.
As such, there are few signs of autism that are noticeable in newborns. However, if a baby fails to reach the developmental milestones expected at two months old, four months old, six months old, nine months old and a year old, this could be one of the first signs of autism or another developmental condition.
Good to know: Not all babies reach developmental milestones at the exact same time. It is normal to have some variation in development. If in doubt about a childÃ¢â¬â¢s development, check with a doctor.
Some of the early signs that a baby under one year old may have autism spectrum disorder include:
- Not babbling by four months old
- Not smiling by five months old
- Not laughing by six months old
- No interest in games like pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo by eight months old
- Not responding to their name by 12 months old
- Not looking at objects pointed out by other people by 12 months old
- Being upset by loud noises
- Not looking to a parent for comfort in new situations
- Being happy to play alone for long periods of time
- Not making eye contact
Signs of autism in toddlers
Some of the signs that a toddler, between one year old and two years old, may have autism spectrum disorder include:
Can Social Skills And Behavior Be Improved
A number of treatment approaches have evolved in the decades since autism was first identified. Some therapeutic programs focus on developing skills and replacing dysfunctional behaviors with more appropriate ones. Others focus on creating a stimulating learning environment tailored to the unique needs of children with autism.
Researchers have begun to identify factors that make certain treatment programs more effective in reducing- or reversing-the limitations imposed by autism. Treatment programs that build on the childs interests, offer a predictable schedule, teach tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engage the childs attention in highly structured activities, and provide regular reinforcement of behavior, seem to produce the greatest gains.
Parent involvement has also emerged as a major factor in treatment success. Parents work with teachers and therapists to identify the behaviors to be changed and the skills to be taught. Recognizing that parents are the childs earliest teachers, more programs are beginning to train parents to continue the therapy at home. Research is beginning to suggest that mothers and fathers who are trained to work with their child can be as effective as professional teachers and therapists.
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How Do Families Learn To Cope
The task of rearing a child with autism is among the most demanding and stressful that a family faces. The childs screaming fits and tantrums can put everyone on edge. Because the child needs almost constant attention, brothers and sisters often feel ignored or jealous. Younger children may need to be reassured that they will not catch autism or grow to become like their sibling. Older children may be concerned about the prospect of having a child with autism themselves. The tensions can strain a marriage.
While friends and family may try to be supportive, they cant understand the difficulties in raising a child with autism. They may criticize the parents for letting their child get away with certain behaviors and announce how they would handle the child. Some parents of children with autism feel envious of their friends children. This may cause them to grow distant from people who once gave them support.
Families may also be uncomfortable taking their child to public places. Children who throw tantrums, walk on their toes, flail their arms, or climb under restaurant tables to play with strangers socks, can be very embarrassing. Janies mother found that once she became willing to explain to strangers that her child has autism, people were more accepting. Pauls mother has learned to remind herself, This is a public place. We have a right to be here.
Rule Out Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions like ear infections, migraines, and physical pain can worsen stimming behaviors in autistic people, so its important to have this checked and addressed as soon as possible. It can be particularly hard to tell if a medical issue is present if your child is non-verbal, so its worth visiting your doctor regularly. If a medical condition is the reason for the stimming, it could reduce or stop completely with treatment and support.
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Encourage Use Of Chewing Tools
Chewing tools, available at many special needs stores and websites, can offer a great alternative to licking. Many of these tools clip onto clothing, so they are always handy when the individual needs oral sensory input.
- National Autism Resources has a good selection of chewing tools, including some that slip over the end of a pencil. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures and start at about six dollars.
- Therapy Shoppe has some excellent options as well. There are several different styles of cuff bracelets, which might offer a great alternative to licking clothing or skin. You’ll also find dozens of other styles, starting at around six dollars.
- Fun and Function offers a variety of sensory toys for autism and other special needs. For kids who like to lick clothing, the Bite Band might be a great option. This is a super-absorbent chewing tool that kids can wear. It retails for $25 for a set of six.
Very Focused On Or Attached To Unusual Objects
Babies with autism can be very focused on or attached to objects that are unusual for their age, such as long strips of cloth, utensils, chains, rocks, sticks, flowing water, or gadgets they can take apart and put together.
If your child is very focused on or attached to unusual objects, this may be an early sign of autism.
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Remove Overwhelming Sensory Input
If your child is over-reacting to sensory input, there are many ways to change the situation. Of course, the first step is to simply avoid overwhelming sensory settings such as parades, amusement parks, and loud venues such as movie theaters. You can also make changes in your home such as replacing fluorescent lamps with incandescent bulbs or turning down the music. When thats not an option, consider ear plugs, distracting sensory toys, or plain old bribery to get through difficult moments.
Lip Licking And Nutrient Deficiencies
If you notice that your child has been licking his lips or the area around his mouth repeatedly, he may have inflamed, cracked lips or some other issue with oral health. Children who repeatedly lick their lips or areas surrounding their mouths might also have a B-complex vitamin deficiency.
So if your child is repeatedly licking his lips, he may have a vitamin B1 deficiency. A deficiency in this nutrient causes cracked lips or even cracks in the corners of the mouth, which is called cheilitis or cheilosis.
Other nutrients that cause cracks in the corners of the mouth when you don’t get enough include vitamin B2 , vitamin B3 , vitamin B12 and iron. A lack of vitamins A, C and K can also cause inflammation of the mouth and lips.
Children experiencing oral side effects from nutrient deficiencies will often repeatedly lick the affected area in an attempt to soothe it however, this is likely to aggravate the problem further. It’s important to treat these symptoms as soon as possible, because they can become itchy, painful and infected if left untreated for long periods of time.
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Why Does My Toddler Keep Touching His Tongue
Toddlers touch their tongue because they have an interest in it. Lets face it, a tongue is wet and feels pretty funny. To a toddler who is learning about their body, it is interesting. It may also be a sign that they have a bit of pain in their tongue. You should check your toddlers mouth and tongue for anything obvious.
Unusual Licking Behavior In Children
If you walk into a room and find your baby licking the floor, don’t consider this to be too unusual. Babies and other young children who are 24 months or younger are often still experiencing the novelty of the world.
Young children around this age range often try to understand their surroundings through sight, sound, smell and even taste, which means that your toddler licking everything can be a perfectly normal part of her development. However, an older child behaving this way may be a sign of a condition called pica.
Pica typically presents as unusual licking or eating behavior focused on items that aren’t typically considered edible, such as stones, bricks, chalk, soap, clay or soil. However, it may also simply be expressed as licking or sucking behavior, because the child may simply want to experience a certain texture in the mouth.
Although pica sounds unusual, it’s often related to a nutrient deficiency and is simply a sign of this underlying condition. Children with pica may have iron deficiency anemia or a zinc deficiency. The condition often goes away once the nutrient deficiencies have been resolved. If you think your child has pica, talk to your doctor to see if a nutritional supplement might be helpful.
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Lets Explore Oral Sensory Seeking
Oral sensory seeking, where a child continues to put things in their mouth after the age of two, is commonly reported alongside sensory issues, autism, developmental delays and learning disabilities. They might continues to chew or suck on non-food objects. These children might suck or chew their sleeves or collar, or constantly have a toy or pencil in their mouth. In some cases, they may also eat non-food items. In this post we will explore
Reasons why this may occur
Advice on how you can help
What Is A Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that people can experience a wide range of symptoms and of varying severities. For example, a person with autism who is towards the high functioning range of the spectrum will have a good grasp of language, but a person towards the low functioning range of the spectrum may not speak at all.
As such, it is important to note that a person with autism spectrum disorder will not display all symptoms and symptoms will vary in severity. However, a person with ASD will display several of these behaviors and signs.
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Signs Of Autism Meltdown
For some people with autism, sensory overload can become overwhelming. In these situations a person may have a meltdown. A change in routine can also precipitate a meltdown.
A meltdown is not a temper tantrum and can be experienced by someone with autism of any age. A meltdown should be managed by calming the person and addressing the cause of the distress.
Signs that a meltdown may be developing, sometimes known as the rumbling stage, include:
- Nail biting
- Chronic gastritis
- Chronic duodenitis
Many people with autism spectrum disorder also have food intolerances and may find that a diet which excludes gluten or casein helps.
Why Do People With Asd Resort To Stimming To Self
There are many reasons for Stimming. When a person with ASD feels anxious or overwhelmed or uncomfortable in a social situation, it can be their way of calming their mind. For example, when Carol finds herself at a social gathering that starts to get loud, she quickly feels over-stimulated. Her body becomes tense and her mind races. She realized that zoning out distracted her from the noise and calmed her. It became her coping mechanism.
While stress can bring on stimming as a response, ironically the opposite is true as well. For instance, when a person is bored it becomes a way to deal with thoughts and feelings that have no place to go. An unoccupied mind and idle body isnt necessarily in a state of calm in ASD it can create a sense of tension or panic.
Stimming is also a way to keep the mind on track. The repetitive motions can allow those with autism to keep focused, and clear their head of distractions. Carol discovered this to be the case when she read a book. She often sucked on a piece of candy while reading. It helped her to concentrate. As one person with ASD described it, stimming improves my concentration. Its a release, like sneezing or scratching an itch.
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